The Green Bay Packers will be a short-handed bunch when the host the Jacksonville Jaguars on Sunday.
Coach Mike McCarthy ruled out five starters: defensive back Charles Woodson, cornerback Sam Shields, fullback John Kuhn, outside linebacker Nick Perry and receiver Greg Jennings. A sixth starter, receiver Jordy Nelson, will test an injured hamstring before the game to determine his availability.
After a relatively healthy season in 2011, this year is taking on the look of the bruised-and-battered 2010 edition.
“I think anytime you have an experience, specifically the challenge as big as 2010 was and everybody knows what the numbers were, it’s something you can point to, something you can draw from,” McCarthy said. “I know personally you don’t get as emotional or maybe as stressed about it as much as probably the first time you go through a difficult situation. I think that’s human nature.”
On Wednesday, McCarthy didn’t sound overly concerned about the hamstring injuries afflicting Nelson and Kuhn, but they didn’t make enough progress this week. If Nelson can’t go, the Packers would have just four receivers: James Jones, Randall Cobb, seldom-used veteran Donald Driver and rarely used undrafted rookie Jarrett Boykin. Without Kuhn, the Packers would be without their only fullback and would have to turn to their corps of tight ends to fill the void. Tom Crabtree and Ryan Taylor would get most of those reps.
“We’ve always interchanged responsibilities between the tight end and the fullback positions and, frankly, the number of times when we’re doing personnel evaluations as far as numbers I lump those two positions together a lot,” McCarthy said. “Whether we’re doing our responsibility tree for offense in pass protection or route running, it’s important to train those two positions the same.”
Shields (ankle) and Perry (knee) were injured two weeks ago at Houston. They’re making progress and McCarthy hopes they’ll be available for next week’s game against Arizona – the final game before a much-needed bye.
The only good news is nose tackle B.J. Raji, who missed the last two games with a sprained ankle, is listed as probable and should return to the lineup.
“I think everybody agrees we’re kind of at that spot you’re happy our bye comes when it does,” McCarthy said. “It’s important for us to win this football game and, God willing, hopefully we’ll be healthy.”
Packers injury report
Out: WR Greg Jennings (groin); FB John Kuhn (hamstring); LB Nick Perry (knee); CB Sam Shields (ankle); CB Charles Woodson (collarbone). Questionable: WR Jordy Nelson (hamstring). Probable: WR Donald Driver (neck); TE Jermichael Finley (shoulder); G T.J. Lang (elbow/wrist); NT B.J. Raji (ankle); QB Aaron Rodgers (calf); C Jeff Saturday (neck); RB James Starks (illness).
Jaguars injury report
Out: RB Maurice Jones-Drew (foot); S Dwight Lowery (ankle). Doubtful: RB Montell Owens (shoulder). Questionable: CB Derek Dox (back); FB Greg Jones (hip); CB Rashean Mathis (groin); WR Laurent Robinson (concussion). Probable: QB Blaine Gabbert (left shoulder). LB Daryl Smith (groin), the leading tackler in franchise history, was removed from the injury report and placed on injured reserve.
Cox and Mathis are the starting corners; Robinson is the big-money wide receiver signed away from Dallas.
-- Tight end Andrew Quarless (knee) and outside linebacker Frank Zombo (hamstring) have practiced the last two weeks. They remain on the physically unable to perform list and will not be activated for Sunday. “I think Frank looks very good,” McCarthy said. “I think he should feel much better about where he is today than he was two weeks ago. I think Andrew is really kind of the normal process of coming off a major injury to the knee. He’s having some soreness, and he needs to continue to work.”
-- The other PUP player, offensive tackle Derek Sherrod (broken leg), has not returned to practice. “We all saw the injury. It was a serious injury, definitely something that we’re not going to rush back,” McCarthy said.
-- Boykin is awaiting his first NFL catch. What better week than this week, as he faces the team that released him at the end of the rookie minicamp. “I would say there’s a little extra (motivation) but that’s not really my main focus, trying to prove (something) to them. Going out there and playing well and helping this team win (is the focus).”
-- Long snapper Brett Goode signed a three-year contract extension that will keep him in Green Bay through 2015. “It’s quite an honor to be able to play as long as I have, and to get the opportunity to be extended, it means a lot. It gives you the confidence to keep doing what you’re doing and keep improving.”